I hope to post some more comparisons between AEN and YEC tomorrow but tonight I am going focus on the most basic idea behind YEC, the concept of creation.
Many of you create works of art. Whether your works of art are songs, poems, novels, paintings, sculptures, quilts, or whatever they may be, your works often (perhaps always) have two aspects. One aspect I will call the "idea", the art as it appeared in your mind, the story of the novel, the image of the painting, the pattern of the quilt, etc. The other aspect I will call the "artifact", the physical embodiment of the idea, the ink marks on the paper, the oil and pigment on the canvas, the stone of the sculpture, the cloth of the quilt.
If the work of art has a narrative, then that work has two timelines. The artifact, the physical embodiment, has what I will call the "artifactual" timeline. Thus, the artifactual timeline of "Macbeth" begins around 1603, when the play was written. The artifactual timeline of Michelangelo's "David" begins around 1501, when the stone was carved. The artifactual timeline of The Hobbit began sometime in the 1930s.
A narrative work of art also has what I will call the "ideal" timeline. Thus, according to the work's "ideal" timeline, the opening scene of "Macbeth" begins around 1040. According to the work's "ideal" timeline, Michelangelo's "David" captures a moment just after David has removed Saul's armor and has resolved to fight the Philistine with a sling. According to it's "ideal" timeline, The Hobbit takes place in the Third Age of the Sun. Some versions of "Barbry Allen" begin one morning in the month of May. You get the idea, because your own stories, songs, paintings, and so forth have this same characteristic of two timelines, one for the artifact and one for the idea.
The "ideal" timeline of a narrative characteristically extends not only forward from the beginning of the work, but also BACKWARD in time from the beginning of the work. Macbeth, for example, married Lady Macbeth BEFORE "Macbeth" begins. David has already removed his armor. Smaug stole the Arkenstone before The Hobbit begins. Barbry broke up with young Johnny Green before that fateful morning in May.
What does it mean to say that something occurred "before the beginning" in a work of art? Does it mean that there was an earlier ARTIFACT? Did Shakespeare first write "The Courtship of Macbeth"? Did Michelangelo first sculpt an infant David? Is there a ballad that begins "One evening in the month of April"? Of course not.
How can something occur BEFORE the beginning? It's not difficult really. You do this in your own works all the time and with ease. As creator, you simply begin your creation "in media res", as they say. In other words, you begin in the middle of things. If you want to paint a big old oak tree scarred by lightening, you do not have to first paint a acorn, then paint a seedling, then a sapling. You can create an oak tree that is mature from the beginning. You can paint the lightening scar without first painting the storm.
Is this dishonest? Of course not. You are not trying to fool anyone. You will tell anyone who asks that your oak tree BEGAN as old, scarred tree. You could have painted an acorn first if you had wanted to, but you didn't. You are an artist and it is easy for you to make a mature, complete creation.
You think God could do the same sort of thing?
That is the basic idea of YEC. God is an artist. The universe is his creation. He could have created an "acorn". He could have created an "oak tree". The Koran, the Torah, and the Gospels say he created an "oak tree". I am not trying to persuade you that what they claim is true. I do want you to understand what it is that they claim.